GARETH Evans has vowed to continue defying the backs by running riot in the wide channels.
The number eight produced another barnstorming performance to pick up the man-of-the-match award in the emphatic 36-18 victory over Perpignan at Stade Aimé Giral on Sunday.
Evans was colossal in defence and caused chaos in attack. An early bone-crunching tackle on Tomasso Benvenuti made Gloucester’s unforgiving intent painfully clear and combination of pace and power led to Charlie Sharples’ try.
He said: “Days like Sunday are what you live for as a rugby player. With the tackle I had (Rob) Cook screaming at me to get up and in the defensive line, I flew up and thought I could take him and the ball. Luckily I got him and he threw the ball into touch.
“I also love having the ball in space. The guys take the mick out of me saying I’m a failed back but if I get myself in those wide channels I will have a go.
“I had (Charlie) Sharples, and I think (Jonny)May, on the outside and you know if worst comes to worst you can just give the ball them and they will do something. But I gave it a go and it came off.”
Evans’ form in recent weeks has been so impressive that he has restricted England international Ben Morgan to a place on the bench.
And the Swindon-born powerhouse admits he is thriving on the competition for places in the Cherry and Whites’ squad.
He said: “I’m loving having so many opportunities at the moment. I’m a rugby player and all I want to do is play. Every time I get on the pitch I will give it my best go.
“You enjoy competition for places because it keeps you on your toes and makes you become a better player - if you’re not on form there’s a capped international to take your place.”
While Evans took plenty of plaudits in Catalonia, he was quick to credit those around him.
It was just the second Heineken Cup encounter the rampaging number eight has started, admitting it was the biggest game of his career.
And he reckons the experience of the likes of James Hudson, Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees proved invaluable in the red-hot cauldron that is Perpignan’s Bull Ring.
Evans said: “Coming somewhere like this, you know it’s going to be in a noisy environment and you will have to front up against a big French side, thankfully we managed to do that.
““We knew we would have to come out and play and we almost ran them off the park in the first half.
“At half-time you could see they were tiring, we knew they were on the racks. It was a bit scrappy at the beginning of the second half and took our foot off the gas but we regained out composure and came through.
“You can’t underestimate how much having experienced guys, who have been in these situations before, helps. It was the first time I’ve played in such a big game and to have these experienced guys around you, keeping you focussed is invaluable
“Having Dan (Robson) and Freddie outside me is great. They’re such good players, they talk so much and make it easy for me. I’ve been playing with Dan since I was 16, so the relationship is good and it’s great to have someone you’re that comfortable with in such a pivotal position.
“(James) Hudson has been around for a while and knows what he is doing. He’s brilliant for the younger guys - he’s always talking to you, calming you down, making sure your head is on things and Billy as captain as well is fantastic.”
Evans insists the result was testament to the hard work put in by Nigel Davies and his squad and he was delighted to finally give the Cherry and White faithful something to cheer about.
Gloucester have won just four times at Kingsholm this season. But he believes the European heroics were just reward for the hundreds of Cherry and White fans that made the trip to Catalonia.
He added: “Our supporters are just incredible. Every week, especially away, the amount of noise they make is just fantastic and gives us such a boost.
“We haven’t justified ourselves and given them what they deserve enough this season. To put in a performance like that for these guys who have travelled all the way here is fantastic.
"We’re not where we want to be by any stretch but performances like that show what we can do. If we keep putting the work in we can get where we want to be.”